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I have written ad nauseum about the importance of interchangeable parts in creating our world, from the industrial revolution to commodity trading. Each is based on interchangeable parts. Imagine the time and cost it would take to make every single item by hand that we use in any given day. Start with machines, but also the food we eat and where and how we prepare and serve it, as well as clothing, building materials, etc. And we know how good we have it when we must “special order” something because it isn’t readily available.
As someone who has travelled a lot, I am often frustrated by all the adapters one needs for phones, computers, etc. Inevitably, I am missing a key adapter left behind on a previous trip. Hotels say they are available in the room. They aren’t. Generally, however, hotels have lost and found items left behind by other travelers. In Sao Paulo, a hotel offered me a very distinctive adapter that I had left in that hotel more than a year before.
This is inherited inconvenience. The electric systems have been around for generations, and they cannot be easily changed. Hotels rarely change the sockets even when remodeling — there is no universal plug so it’s a pretty simple choice really. Continue until there is agreement about the change.
An Ashoka newsletter recently suggested that electronics are the fastest growing source of global waste. It’s odd because the items aren’t cheap and many of the components are scarce and becoming more expensive and harder to find. Wouldn’t it be better to make parts available to repair machines than to throw them away not knowing if they will be recycled? Yet, that’s what we do. The companies that sell electronics benefit from their being “fast moving.” The faster products move, the more products sold. The more products sold, the more money the company makes. While this may be good for the bottom line, it is not good for poorer consumers who spend more on such items at the expense of necessities. This is about planned obsolescence. But it is also about the right to repair — where have the repair shops gone? Why can’t they get parts? – Jason
Corruption Endangers World’s Shrinking FisheriesAssociated Press
Corruption is plaguing dozens of coastal developing countries that are key in managing some of the world’s most threatened fisheries, according to experts and a review of criminal case files by the AP. At least 45 government officials have been accused of corruption in the past two decades.
JC: WWF’s research over the past decade has shown considerable illegality in all globally traded food. It has been estimated that 25% or so of globally traded, wild-caught seafood is Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU). The Chinese fleet (with half of global fishing capacity) often fishes illegally in coastal waters or with their boat transmitters disconnected. Seafood is also caught using illegal gear. And retailers complain that lower-valued species are often substituted for higher-priced species but at the same price. The US and China have each created DNA tests that take 15-20 minutes to identify the species to detect fraud. Chinese inspectors use a visual database to check live fish (especially reef fish) to make sure the species are legal and properly identified. Seafood is one of the highest-value food exports and bribery and corruption are common in global seafood trade. There is opportunity to make money all along the value chain (e.g. fishing access, looking the other way, ending bans, loosening catch restrictions, etc.) Globally we consume twice as much seafood as we did 50 years ago. The increase has come from aquaculture, but aquaculture production costs money; wild-caught fish are there for the taking. This is hunting and gathering at a global scale. Think about it.
Farmed Salmon and Chicken have a Global Footprint — but the Burden is ConcentratedNature
Industrial chicken and salmon farms are found around the world, but nearly all the environmental burden of these operations is concentrated on geographical hotspots, according to a new study. Less than 5% of Earth’s surface bears 95% of the cumulative environmental burden of chicken and salmon production. 
JC: We need more studies like this to understand the impact intensity from producing products as well as the differences between them, e.g. from land or sea. Averages don’t just get in the way; they prevent us from understanding how to produce food (especially animal proteins that compound impacts) more sustainably or make the food system more resilient over time. While this research doesn’t answer the key question — Is it better to use some areas more intensively or to spread the impacts around over much larger areas? — it is asking the right questions. These questions are not just important for consumers who may want to make more informed choices; they are critically important for companies that want to reduce impacts in their supply chains. Also, these studies are not theoretical or static — we will have a billion more people in 15 years and 700-800 million more by 2050. On average, everybody will live longer, have more income, and consume more and differently than today. In short, whatever is sustainable today won’t be tomorrow, and will need to be abandoned the day after that.
China Vows to Push Rural VitalizationGlobal Times
In a new policy document, China underlined its determination to "comprehensively push" rural vitalization as well as speed up achieving rural modernization, vowing to take measures that include securing agricultural supplies/production and strengthening rural infrastructure construction.
JC: While this is an official Chinese publication and should be taken with a grain of salt, it is interesting to read what China is thinking about and how it plans to address an issue few other countries are addressing: How do you support the necessary rural transitions for producers to adapt to climate change and to make those systems more resilient? China has already taken the first and hardest step, to reorganize farming more than a decade ago by restructuring (dba “eliminating”) half of the 500 million farms in China through consolidation and encouraging the new farms to modernize and be more efficient. Now the country appears to be investing to revitalize rural areas in the face of the impacts of climate change on what is produced, how and where, as well as improving market integration. While this won’t work everywhere, it is important that every country develops a strategy to revitalize food production and rural areas. Let’s hope we learned something from the failure of urban redevelopment.

Would You Like a 3D-Printed Low-Fat Chocolate?Food Processing
A Rutgers University scientist has developed a low-fat chocolate formulation that can be printed on a 3D printer in pretty much any desired shape. The researcher hopes this will be the first in a new line of ‘functional foods’ that are specifically designed with health benefits.
JC: Several years ago, I was on a SxSW panel that focused on 3-D printing for food. As you can imagine the focus then, as today, wasn’t if it could be done but whether the food would taste good. It might be useful on a spacecraft (remember Star Trek), in a submarine, or anywhere it’s impossible to make food traditionally. Generally, though, people choose foods based on flavor, aroma, texture, and chew, and one or two of them is not sufficient. After the session, people were asked to taste printed food. I think it was lasagna. It looked right but it didn’t taste or chew like lasagna. Regarding chocolate, I hadn’t realized that the traditional shapes of chocolate (square, round, or pyramids) kept people from eating it. Different shapes or colors might interest people who don’t like chocolate to try it in a different shape. But a new shape won’t entice people to eat chocolate if they don’t like it. The bigger issue, though, is who would eat low-fat chocolate, much less when formulated by a professor?

Exxon Retreats From Major Climate Effort to Make Biofuels From AlgaeBloomberg
After advertising its efforts to produce environmentally friendly fuels from algae for over a decade, Exxon Mobil Corp. is now quietly walking away from its most heavily publicized climate solution. Exxon has slashed its support for Viridos Inc., a biotech company that operated as the oil giant’s key technical partner since it began its algae push in 2009.
JC: It appears that Exxon is trying to pivot to the future by protecting all its infrastructure from the past. However, the future of transportation is not liquid fuels, fossil or otherwise. Perhaps Exxon should take a hard look at the company to find a way to pivot into the 21st century rather than to hang on to its built infrastructure, which supports 20th century technology. Instead of trying to find a better horse for the buggy, perhaps Exxon should be looking for next generation transport and its fuel source. This will be a problem for many companies that try to protect sunk costs in existing investments rather than anticipate the transformative change that is coming. Incremental change is going to cost a lot regardless of the sector, but ultimately it will fail to position companies for next-generation technology.
EU Bans Sale of New Gas-Powered Cars by 2035Yahoo News
Lawmakers in the European Union voted to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and vans by 2035, effectively requiring all new cars be electric in Europe in 12 years. California, which accounts for the largest share of US car sales, will require all-electric new car sales in 2035, with many other states poised to follow its lead.
JC: It is more likely this regulatory trend that has pushed Exxon to halt its investments in biofuels. If the EU and California are shifting to all electric cars in just 12 years, then filling stations will be obsolete and battery chargers, or better still roadside changers, make more sense. That would anticipate the new “fuel” market. This conversion, however, requires that the transport sector isn’t allowed to make the same mistake that the telecommunications sector did as we moved from hard-wired to mobile phones. Today the average life of a car on the road is more than 10 years. That is not the case for cell phones. Here we run into the issue of planned obsolescence in companies but also regulations that require all charging systems to work for all car batteries. Now is the time to make sure this issue is addressed. The next transport system needs to ensure that all power source connections are the same regardless of company, state or country.
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